Perfume is the most inspiring and captivating of all beauty products. I am fiercely protective of my collection of perfumes and standing in front of my “scent shelf” is a daily ritual I enjoy so much. Perusing the cut glass bottled liquids, contemplating my day ahead; my mood and thus choosing the scent to best compliment them both.
Although I have many mainstream perfumes in my stockpile (Chanel No.5, Marc Jacobs’ Daisy, Chloe Love Story) it is the artisan perfumes that hold a special place in my heart. Like a vintage jewellery collector unearthing a rare piece of Lacroix jewellery in a junk store, I am increasingly captivated by scents I discover from smaller perfume brands that nobody (and by nobody I mean my group of colleagues and amigos) will be likely to be wearing.
Read on for my top 3 perfumers killing the artisan perfume scene right now.
Discovering By Kilian was a thoroughly enjoyable shopping experience that happened to me late last year at their Burlington Arcade boutique. Any perfumer that has it’s own boutique and presents it’s fragrances in such a prestigious way as Kilian has my attention. The store assistant knew absolutely everything about the fragrances and was so eager to suggest ones I might like, in an enthusiastic non-sales way I might add.
Kilian is the heir to a long line of cognac-makers and wrote a thesis on the semantics of scent in search of a ‘language’ common to gods and mortals. The perfume brand launched in 2007 and he described the venture as the “perfect alliance between elegance and luxury”. The store, predominantly black and white in colour, smells alluring and decadent; two words that translate into all his fragrances. Russian women love Kilian apparently!
Each fragrance is presented in the most covetable of enamel boxes designed with the markings of the fragrances’ collection, of which there are 5: “L’Oeuvre Noire”, “Arabian Nights”, “Asian Tales”, “In the Garden of Good & Evil” and “Addictive State of Mind“.
Despite the hefty price tag each bottle purchase is like buying into the Kilian Club as customers are from then on offered juice refills for their bottles at a very discounted price.
My fragrance choice: Love, don’t be shy.
I don’t tend to be a fan of the Sucre or caramel molasses style of fragrances but Love, don’t be shy makes my mouth water. Wearing this perfume smells like you are in the most intense of embraces with the opposite sex. The top notes are a surprising mix of orange blossom and marshmallow, the dry down in intensely amber.
Vilhelm Parfumerie is a niche fragrance house. The founder, Jan Alhgren was born in Sweden and after working in Europe in fashion for years. He moved to New York city with his now wife and business partner and launched his first scent; his attempt to bottle the art of leather glove making.
Vilhelm says that each fragrance creation is collaboration between people’s memories of youth and travel.
The low, cut glass bottles feel old but modern with their bright yellow tops. The names of the perfume inspire remembrances from times past but smell quite modern.
My choice: Room Service.
Described as a Siren’s Bouquet; Room Service is also a sexy scent but lighter than Kilian’s bold and cloying Love, don’t be shy.
The quote used on Vilhelm’s website to describe the scent is so be-fitting; “There are many things in your heart you can never tell to another person,” Greta Garbo once said. Words, I feel, best describe the languid intimacy and secret delight of a love affair staged only behind the closed doors of a hotel room.
Top notes of Room Service are violet petals, pink orchid and green bamboo, fresh Mandarin nectar and a sandalwood-infused base. One of his best sellers.
Lola James Harper
I discovered Lola James Harper last summer. I was immediately captivated by their candles that have names like The Comics Store of George, The White Coffee on Teta Balcony and my favourite, The Movie Theatre in Lancaster.
Like many perfumers LJP is inspired by people, places and happenings but no perfumer I have come across has been quite so literal in bottling the exact time, location and experience as this one.
His Eau de Toilettes are for sale in Selfridges in the UK and have less literal names but more philosophical states’ of mind.
My Choice: Everything will come together
The scent came to me when things felt the opposite of “together”. I think that was why I was so taken with it at the time. You can read more on this Neroli based scent here.